How Brunswick Landing is Accelerating an Innovative and Renewable Future

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Gary Higginbottom of the Hydrogen Energy Center photo by Kay MannOn December 19 2013, the Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) hosted a forum event at Brunswick Landing called, "Accelerating an Innovative & Renewable Future". The panel was moderated by Gary Higginbottom of the Hydrogen Energy Center (left). Green Energy Maine was there and brings you this report.

BRUNSWICK RENEWABLE ENERGY CENTER

Steve Levesque, Executive Director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority photo by Kay MannSteve Levesque, Executive Director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), right, began the forum by providing an update on plans for a Renewable Energy Center and TechPlace at Brunswick Landing.

MRRA is working with private businesses, non-profit organizations, government entities, and other interested parties to explore possible investments in energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, and other alternative energy-related businesses, research and development programs, demonstration projects, incubation space, manufacturing or other uses at Brunswick Landing. A recent $2 million federal award to support establishment of an advanced manufacturing accelerator adds to the economic potential of the site.

Two specific goals of MRRA are the recovery of the jobs lost when the naval air station closed and to facilitate the redevelopment of the maximum economic potential of the campus.

The Brunswick Renewable Energy Center (BREC) is a key component of the redevelopment plan. The vision is of a world class renewable energy hub for a clean technology cluster, including a smart microgrid.

The campus, which has only one meter connected to the CMP grid, is buying 100% green power now and can leverage its advantages of being a self-contained microgrid. Growing energy technologies can use this small scale environment as a plug-and-play testing ground, much as the University of California at Irvine does.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has identified a number of viable renewable energy generation technologies which may be deployed successfully at Brunswick Landing. Key among them is biomass power generation; see the Village Green Ventures project below.

The campus has the potential to become one of the first net zero developments in the country. BREC can attract renewable energy development companies to play in this field.

In addition to BREC, MRRA is establishing "Tech Place", a science and technology business accelerator to incubate emerging technology businesses. Tech Place is envisioned to support the business clusters of aerospace, advanced materials, biotech/biomed, energy and information services technologies. MRRA was one of 11 recipients of a "Make it in America" funding grant to develop this business accelerator.

Tech Place is being housed in a 93,000 square foot building, broken into a number of smaller spaces ideal for housing small businesses. It is expected to be ready for occupancy by spring of 2014.

Building this center is going to require a lot of collaborations and interrelationships. Key factors that will lead to its success include the condition of the national and state economies and the availability of financial resources to re-purpose the properties.

Among other conducive attributes of Brunswick Landing, it has been designated as a Foreign Trade Zone. Education is an essential link to the development of these clusters; to this end a campus of Southern Maine Community College has been established within Brunswick Landing.

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VILLAGE GREEN VENTURES

David Weyburn, Principal at Village Green Ventures photo by Kay MannThe second to speak on this morning was David Weyburn, Principal at Village Green Ventures (VGV). Weyburn spoke on "Creating a Distributed Energy Economy", with a focus on a new anaerobic digestor which will provide electricity to Brunswick Landing tenants.

Weyburn began by stating four tenets that Village Green Ventures believes:
Resource and environmental challenges are real;
Distributed solutions are the answer;
Market proven alternatives do exist and
It takes a village to create change.

The company is founded upon prior experience in the defense industry at a time when the military was beginning to look hard at energy sophistication. Its principals also have both domestic and international experience in the project finance and project management spheres, with proven abilities to build industrial partnerships and stakeholder consortia.

The concept that VGV is developing is a central piece of the overall concept that was presented in 2010 by NREL in its feasibility study for the BREC, mentioned above. NREL presented a 20-year roadmap, which cannot be developed all at once.

VGV can be the key anchor tenant around which the entire energy network is built. Other components of the network may include biomass, hydropower, solar, wind, combined heat and power, distributed generation, micro-grid and district heating. The anaerobic digestion plant being planned by VGV is expected to meet about 60% of the energy needs of Brunswick Landing.

HOW THE ANAEROBIC DIGESTION SYSTEM (ADS) WORKS

Quasar Energy Group (a Kurtz Brothers company in Ohio) designed the digester plant that is being proposed for installation at BREC. Essentially, the plant would use waste organic materials as a fuel and feedstock from food, fats, oils an greases (FOG), sewage and septic sludge. In the anaerobic digester, bacteria would digest these waste materials and turn them into biogas, which will be used to generate power.

Leftover solid materials will be pasteurized for use as a fertilizer; this volume is expected to be 40 tons per day. Liquid waste from the process will go back to the town wastewater treatment plant initially, but will ultimately be used in a greenhouse. The bottom line is that this plant will enable the town of Brunswick to avoid tipping 90 tons of material at Juniper Ridge landfill each day.

There will be waste heat from the plant that it can market; this could potentially heat the hanger #5 building. VGV hopes to eventually diversify into solar and wind, closed cycle heating systems and other technologies.

Weyburn noted that the best way to approach negotiations with utilities is to collaborate. This has proven successful in Europe because small distributed generation facilities can help utilities to find new and diverse markets.

As far as potential future build-out of similar plants goes, there could be a potential need for one facility for every 500,000 to 1 million people.

Brunswick is a good community in which to site this anaerobic digestion facility, given its strong community resources such as a vibrant downtown, Bowdoin College, dense residential areas and good public schools.

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AN EXAMPLE FROM CONNECTICUT

Joel Rinebold Director of Energy Initiatives at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc photo by Kay MannThe third speaker of the forum was Joel Rinebold, Director of Energy Initiatives at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc.

Rinebold described some of the work that has been accomplished in CT in building a business incubator, aka accelerator. He began by noting that the previous two speakers are going in the right direction, then went on to describe how it has been done in Connecticut.

These steps are generally recommended:
1. Assemble the stakeholders: industry, government, legal, government, utilities, military.
2. Conduct a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
3. Walk away from the parts that don't work. Focus on opportunities and understand your threats.
4. Look at relationships between the stakeholders and how they can engage with each other.
5. Put together a master plan, comprehensive plan, or roadmap by any name. Take a 10-20 year view.
6. Make the plan hard enough to be followed but flexible enough to adapt to changes.
7. Get this document institutionalized with government, either as a sponsor or by holding it up as a public benefit. This can take the form of legislative support, funding, etc.

Rinebold then described the following components of the Connecticut plan:

Tactically, they started with an economic analysis including identifying jobs, revenue and tax benefits. They engaged outside contractors to bring these figures in, including some great resources from the University of Maine and Maine's Hydrogen Energy Center.

When you can present hard numbers to show how many jobs can be created, funding will be easier to obtain. They then put together an annual business plan with target figures. Next, they listed the tasks needed for execution. This list was taken back to the stakeholders (which must not be simply placeholders), who were brought in to help execute the plan.

RESULTS OF CCAT'S WORK

The team has put together educational initiatives for IT, manufacturing and prototyping. Connecticut is in the middle of an aerospace hub and this has worked out well to serve the needs of these industrial stakeholders.

An example is the fuel cell industry. Connecticut companies manufacture fuel cells and components, then place them into industrial locations to provide low-cost, clean energy in CCAT's business accelerator.

The accelerator has a demonstration facility and the potential to manufacture some of the hardware for both onshore and offshore wind energy applications.

CCAT administers the State of CT Biodiesel Program and has administered the development of research, production and distribution facilities, a testing lab, and incentive grants for continued production.

Further south, CCAT is looking at how to make densely populated urban areas more energy efficient, as well as both public and private transportation options and new vehicle technologies for fleets.

Rinebold re-iterated his advice to gather a group's greatest strengths:
Stakeholders
Business planning
Data collection and analysis
Work with good people.

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Questions from the audience:

Q: What is the financial status of VGV?
Weyburn: Everything is awesome. Final funding is still coming together and we hope to break ground by spring.

Q: Is your product being delivered as a PPA (power purchase agreement)?
Weyburn: It will not be going out onto the grid.

Q: Will the VGV facility use standard or micro turbines?
Weyburn: It will use a reciprocating generator.

Q: Is the avoided cost of sludge disposal part of the economic equation that makes it work for sewage treatment plants?
Weyburn: Yes, we will make costs lower for treatment plants. We will be a receiver of wastes.

Q: What kind of incentives are there for businesses looking to move the the former NASB?
Levesque: The classic suite of business development incentives available in Maine, including TIF's and Pine Tree Zone status, as well as new markets tax credits.

Q: Does the FAA have any conflict with the siting of an anaerobic digester at Brunswick Landing?
Weyburn: We are waiting for a permit.

Q: We don't have source separation infrastructure in the state; how will you get the feedstocks you need?
Weyburn: We will take wastewater treatment solids that are not predigested. Half will be septage and FOG not being utilized in the biodiesel industry. There is a lot of wastewater and stormwater right on campus that we can use. As to foods, there was a recent study done at ecomaine to show that foods are a large percentage of the biosolids that can be pulled from the waste stream. Our ability to grow will depend on the ability of municipalities to separate waste sources out for us to use as feedstock.

Q: Can the CCAT model be applied to MRRA?
Rinebold: Funding streams are diverse and long. Look in part to state agencies for both long and short-term funding. We try to develop small projects first in our incubator and then bring them out into other communities. We have received substantial funding from the US military, which asks us to help solve problems of supply chain integration.

The slide presentations given by each speaker can be found here.

ABOUT E2TECH

The Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) seeks to build and expand the State’s environmental, energy, and clean technology sectors. E2Tech acts as a catalyst to stimulate growth in this sector by facilitating networking, serving as a clearinghouse for objective information, and leading efforts to promote the sector.

E2Tech is a member-based organization comprised of businesses and organizations that seek to build Maine’s environmental and energy technology economy and include renewable power companies, environmental engineers, emerging entrepreneurs, innovators and designers, as well as government agencies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations and businesses that see the economic promise of clean tech for Maine.E2Tech membership is for organizations and individuals engaged in Maine’s environmental and energy sectors interested in the growth of Maine’s clean technology economy.

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